As one of the few Wallabies who knows what it’s like to win at Auckland’s Eden Park, former captain Andrew Slack wants coach Michael Cheika and his selectors to resist making changes for Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup decider.
Slack was the last captain to lead the Wallabies to victory over the All Blacks at the famous ground – way back in 1986 – with the win clinching the prized trans-Tasman trophy.
Four years ago, the Wallabies were in the same scenario after winning their opening test in Sydney, but with the World Cup in mind, Cheika changed most of his backline and traded two forwards.
The Wallabies were crushed 41-13 at Eden Park, however they went on to make the World Cup final later that year.
With the team to be announced Thursday, Cheika hasn’t given any indication this week if he intends to repeat those plans but Slack hopes he doesn’t.
“I think part of the good performance last week was that everybody who was selected earned their place and deserved to be there and I’m not sure that’s always been the case,” Slack told AAP.
“I think when you’ve got a team where everybody can say, ‘He deserves to be there’, it builds a confidence within the team.
“You know the bloke beside you is going to do their job, so if we start fiddling and mucking around with selections again just to experiment, I think it’s a backward step.
“You don’t play like that and reinvigorate the game and get everyone with a smile on their faces with a reward of not getting a game – I don’t buy that.”
Slack wanted to starting line-up to remain intact, but could see room for the return of champion flanker David Pocock, who has been sidelined since March with a calf injury.
When Slack led his troops to victory at Eden Park, he never envisaged the mark would stand more than 30 years on.
He said he had found the ground “tricky” due to its cricket ground dimensions, but felt it had no mystical value.
Slack’s only explanation for the long drought was simply how well the All Blacks played at their spiritual home.
“The problem with Eden Park is that every time you play there, you’ve got to play the All Blacks,” Slack said.
“It’s a tough opposition every time but I’ve got no answers why it’s taken 33 years – well hopefully taken 33 years to get another win.”
He predicted the All Blacks would come back hard after being stung in Perth.
Slack felt the result could come down to discipline, which the Wallabies had the better of with an 8-4 penalty count as well as an All Blacks send-off.
He said the Wallabies needed to try to stick to what worked best in game one.
“The key will probably come down to who gives away the most crucial penalties,” he said.
“The All Blacks weren’t up to their general standard on that front so they will be really concentrating on that.
“The eagerness we have to build on last week, you can almost get to a point where you’re trying too hard, and you have to have faith in what you did last week will do the job again.”
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